Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 08/31/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Folsom, Ed

First Committee Member

Stewart, Garrett

Second Committee Member

Rigal, Laura

Third Committee Member

Peters, John Durham

Fourth Committee Member

Glass, Loren


“Cerebral Imaginaries” examines the intersections between anatomically justified theories of brain function and the literature of Great Britain and the United States from the 1800s to the 1880s. The years that followed the heyday of philosophical mind materialism (in the late 1700s) but preceded the dawn of modern psychology (around 1880), saw the appearance of neuroscience as a discipline. This dissertation traces the literary impact and cultural constructedness of new theories of mindedness and human cognition that came in its wake. What anatomists, alienists, and amateur scientists hypothesized about the brain in these years served to unsettle many assumptions about the thinking self that underpinned Anglo-American culture: be it the idea of having a single, coherent mind, or notions of free will and rationality. In tandem with early neurologists, contemporary writers interrogated what having (or perhaps: being) a brain really entailed, leading to a highly creative cross-insemination between science and literature. From the British Romantics to the American Gothic and from early Realism to technophile periodical fiction, this dissertation demonstrates that literature not only reacted to the science of its day, but, in turn, directly influenced it by providing structuring metaphors, cognitive frameworks, and epistemologies.


Brains, Literature, Media Studies, Neuroscience, Poetry, Prose


xiii, 245 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 220-245).


Copyright © 2018 Stefan Schöberlein

Available for download on Monday, August 31, 2020